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Bao Tong

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Bao Tong at home. (Source: Wikipedia/Renee Chiang)

Bao Tong is a government critic, activist, and former high-ranking CCP official and close aide to ousted Premier Zhao Ziyang. After serving a seven-year prison sentence in isolation in the wake of the 1989 government crackdown on pro-democracy protesters, Bao has been subject to continuous surveillance and virtual house arrest. Despite this, he has continued his open critique of the Chinese government and CCP policy, as well as his advocacy for the rehabilitation of Zhao Ziyang's reputation.

Bao was born in Haining, Zhejiang in 1932, but spent much of his formative years in Shanghai. A 2009 interview with the Financial Times' Jamil Anderlini outlines further details about Bao's early years. He was the son of a factory worker, and was exposed to left-wing political thought at an early age by two of his uncles who were prominent intellectuals. He met his wife-to-be, Jiang Zongcao, in high school in Shanghai. Jiang convinced Bao to join the Chinese Communist Party in 1949, the same year it took control of the state following the Chinese Civil War between the CCP and the Kuomintang. Zhao quickly rose through the Party ranks, but was denounced during the Cultural Revolution and sent to do labor in Manchuria. After the Cultural Revolution, Zhao was politically rehabilitated, and became a top aide to liberal reformer Zhao Ziyang during his premiership (1980-1987) and short tenure as CCP General Secretary (1987-1989).

On May 28, 1989—just days prior to the fateful military crackdown on pro-democracy protesters on June 4th that marked the end of—Bao was placed under arrest for allegedly leaking the central government decision to declare martial law to a student protester.

Bao Tong at CDT

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